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aviator
11-29-2010, 12:36 PM
I love Nodal Ninja products and own the NN3MkII and NN5. I also like my new camera, the Canon Powershot S95. It is superb for high-dynamic-range panoramas - it has high pixel count, manual mode and brackets exposures. Ten rotation stops are required in portrait mode at 28mm equivalent focal length. The camera is tiny and far smaller than the NN3MkII.

In my home workshop I conducted major surgery on the pano head. I fabricated a new vertical rail, a custom camera plate, and shortened the upper and lower rails. The weight of the NN2.9MkII dropped to 370 from 535 grams and it fits in the palm of my hand. For a lightweight travel pano rig, this is going to serve well. As high quality cameras continue to shrink in size there may be a market for such a device. Nick...

I just have one concern. Do you suppose I have voided the warranty on my Nodal Ninja product?
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hindenhaag
11-29-2010, 02:11 PM
Legally, yes. You have lost the warranty.

First point: using NN products since several years I never had to ask for warranty. With a lot of NN Products I use. R1, NN3, NN5, Ez-Leveller II.

Second point: Just send your Info to Nick. May be he is interested. We right now have a Nadir Adaptor which was forced by DennisS. Nick is always interested in filling gaps in this market if there really is sense in doing it, which means, if there are enough people to ask for it.

Third: coming up with a new design which needs to change the original product, I dare to say, you will get help if something goes wrong and you need spare parts. There is a background in Nodal Ninja / Fanotec philosophy...listen, and get beyond horizon.

Great design. Well done. Thx for sharing.

Regards,
Heinz

aviator
11-29-2010, 02:29 PM
Heinz,

Thanks for your note. My 'question' about warranty was tongue-in-cheek as I do not believe cutting up their product into smaller pieces makes a manufacturer inclined to honor a warranty. I agree that warranty has never been an issue with Nodal Ninja as the team is very responsive and the products are superb. I like their approach of trying to maximize compatibilty with legacy products.

Aviator

DemonDuck
11-29-2010, 03:37 PM
I love Nodal Ninja products and own the NN3MkII and NN5. I also like my new camera, the Canon Powershot S95. It is superb for high-dynamic-range panoramas - it has high pixel count, manual mode and brackets exposures. Ten rotation stops are required in portrait mode at 28mm equivalent focal length. The camera is tiny and far smaller than the NN3MkII.

In my home workshop I conducted major surgery on the pano head. I fabricated a new vertical rail, a custom camera plate, and shortened the upper and lower rails. The weight of the NN2.9MkII dropped to 370 from 535 grams and it fits in the palm of my hand. For a lightweight travel pano rig, this is going to serve well. As high quality cameras continue to shrink in size there may be a market for such a device. Nick...

Good job. This is exactly the point I've been trying to make to Bill and Nick for quite some time. Compact cameras are getting really good. If you look at the samples on DPReview, Canon, Nikon and Panasonic are making compact cameras that make images as good as older DSLRs. But an NN3/5 is way over kill and the new NN5 replacement is like driving an M1 battle tank to the market if you have a compact.

Smaller head and more accurate way to attach the compact to the head is very much a viable product today.

I hope Nick gives priority to the development of the mini NNX

DD

nick fan
11-30-2010, 01:13 AM
I love Nodal Ninja products and own the NN3MkII and NN5. I also like my new camera, the Canon Powershot S95. It is superb for high-dynamic-range panoramas - it has high pixel count, manual mode and brackets exposures. Ten rotation stops are required in portrait mode at 28mm equivalent focal length. The camera is tiny and far smaller than the NN3MkII.

In my home workshop I conducted major surgery on the pano head. I fabricated a new vertical rail, a custom camera plate, and shortened the upper and lower rails. The weight of the NN2.9MkII dropped to 370 from 535 grams and it fits in the palm of my hand. For a lightweight travel pano rig, this is going to serve well. As high quality cameras continue to shrink in size there may be a market for such a device. Nick...

I just have one concern. Do you suppose I have voided the warranty on my Nodal Ninja product?

Thanks for your hint. It remind me the size of Nodal Ninja SPH-1, the first generation of NN. :thumbup:

when I have more time, I can develop NN custom made (to fit angle of view of the lens) to a camera. I may even make a template for automatic stitching.


Nick

aviator
11-30-2010, 04:18 AM
Attached are 'before' photos which show excess arm length... therefore excess weight and size. Nick, as you suggest, the generic camera mounting plate is much heavier and bigger than a custom plate can be.
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nick fan
11-30-2010, 07:17 AM
pano head requirement for P&S is complicated. when no converter lens is used, the camera is very small. when a converter is used, it can be longer than a DSLR with a prime lens. So a mini modular system is needed.

Nick

DemonDuck
11-30-2010, 09:33 AM
pano head requirement for P&S is complicated. when no converter lens is used, the camera is very small. when a converter is used, it can be longer than a DSLR with a prime lens. So a mini modular system is needed.
Nick

Yes, that's a problem as is the offset tripod screw hole. If I use a long converter lens that makes it hard to move the lens back to the NPP, I just reverse the T-XX so that the screw hole on the T-XX is forward of the camera instead of behind the camera.

By "mini modular" do you mean a (smaller) quick release type system like on the prototype replacement for the NN5. If so, the problem with that idea is that it adds yet more hardware and weight to the system.

I think that an improved and lightened T-II like plate is good for cameras when there is no adapter tube and a simple lens ring system (maybe like what I described) for cameras that use an adapter tube would be better, simpler and lighter.

The quick release system is just adds more hardware and doesn't guarantee a good alignment.

DD

DemonDuck
11-30-2010, 09:46 AM
Thanks for your hint. It remind me the size of Nodal Ninja SPH-1, the first generation of NN. :thumbup:
when I have more time, I can develop NN custom made (to fit angle of view of the lens) to a camera. I may even make a template for automatic stitching. Nick

I use an old SPH-1 on my monopod. Works great! I took the rotator off and bolted it directly to the monopod. Then I just rotate the monopod.

I've even made multi-row panos with it.

http://pancyl.com/McLeodLake.html

3@+60; 6@0; 3@-60

Even with the SPH-1 there's still a lot of unused metal. But that would be a good starting place.

DD

aviator
11-30-2010, 04:47 PM
DemonDuck,

Like your comments... unused metal is just dead weight. There is still some unneeded metal left in my modifications. The base of the rotator is too heavy and could use lightening holes. The upper knob is too thick and heavy.

Also agree quick release is not desirable for compact cameras... or maybe some big ones as well. It just adds complexity, weight and nodal point uncertainty.

DemonDuck
11-30-2010, 08:44 PM
Compact cameras weigh less than a pound. Even the biggest converter lens only weighs about a pound (FC-E9 for example) so a mini-NN could be really spidery if Nick used carbon fiber or titanium. The arms could be not much bigger than a pencil. These heads don't have to be built like a tank.....

nick fan
12-01-2010, 06:43 AM
hi Aviator,

what kind of pano are you making? spherical or just a typical multi-row wide angle pano?

Nick

aviator
12-01-2010, 08:45 AM
Nick,

“Spherical or typical multi-row”? The short answer is both but please let me give you more detail. My only other post on the forum dates to 2008 and shows a custom camera mounting plate/lens shade I built for a Nikon D3/14-24mm lens. It works well for spherical panos, but this rig weighs a ton.

My emphasis now is on very light weight… something that can be carried in a couple of big pockets for travel. My wife and I recently toured the Amalfi Coast in Italy and I took along my new Canon Powershot S95. It is a superb little camera and I made some HDR cylindrical panos using the automatic bracketing feature in aperture mode. Since I was only carrying a tiny tabletop tripod I worked with distant scenes so nodal point was not an issue.

I suggest there is a market for the smallest, lightest pano head feasible for a high quality point-and-shoot camera. I have fairly small size now in my modified version of your NN3MkII but it is still heavier than necessary. As suggested on this thread, carbon fiber and titanium (or unobtainium) could be used to advantage here. The goal should be a pano head so light and convenient that it could be left in place for ordinary point-and-shoot use of the camera, or double as a tripod head in non-pano use. I have a Velbon Ultra Maxi Mini tripod on the way to try with my camera/head combination.

Now back to your question. I don’t expect to do full spherical panos with this setup because too many shots are required with the 28mm widest lens setting. 100 plus degrees vertically by 360 degrees horizontally requires two rows, 10 shots each, and each bracketed with three exposures. I would not expect to bother with the zenith or nadir for most scenic panos… or I would drag out my big rig.

DemonDuck
12-01-2010, 10:14 AM
hi Aviator,

what kind of pano are you making? spherical or just a typical multi-row wide angle pano?

Nick

What is a "typical multi-row wid angle pano"? Do you mean a cylindrical pano? Perhaps they are more common than I think but in the forums that I frequent, I see very few cylindrical panos. Most are full spheres. The difference in making them is so small -- if you consider setting up -- that a cylindrical seems like a job where you quit just before you finish. I think that any pano head should be designed first to be a spherical pano head. It's easy enough to do cylindrical panos with a spherical head.

DD

aviator
12-01-2010, 10:36 AM
Agree, once you are able to pan and tilt around the nodal point, then cylindrical versus spherical is a non-issue. Perhaps Nick is thinking of a very simple pan-only mode which would be very limiting.

nick fan
12-01-2010, 05:28 PM
What is a "typical multi-row wid angle pano"? Do you mean a cylindrical pano? Perhaps they are more common than I think but in the forums that I frequent, I see very few cylindrical panos. Most are full spheres. The difference in making them is so small -- if you consider setting up -- that a cylindrical seems like a job where you quit just before you finish. I think that any pano head should be designed first to be a spherical pano head. It's easy enough to do cylindrical panos with a spherical head.

DD

many people use stitching to increase the resolution. They may use a 28mm lens to take a shot with fov of a 14mm lens. This way they get much higher resolution.
To make spherical pano, a wide angle converter is likely to be used and a zenith shot may be needed. So there is a lower limit on its vertical headroom.

Nick

aviator
10-29-2013, 01:04 PM
It has been nearly three years since I submitted photos of my heavily modified NN3 MkII. Pictures above show that the completed panoramic head fits in the palm of my hand. I've upgraded to the latest Canon Powershot S120 which has lowered the minimum focal length from 28 to 24 mm. This combined with a 4:3 aspect ratio allows a spherical panorama to be captured with 16 shots plus nadir. Also the camera will bracket three exposures, plus and minus two stops. Fixing aperture, manual focus and short self timer yields superb results. PTGui handles the bracketing effortlessly.

The point of the exercise was to reduce the size and weight of a pano rig dramatically. The whole thing including tripod fit in a small bag that is easy on the shoulder... far more convenient than the Nikon DSLR setup I also have.

nick fan
10-29-2013, 08:56 PM
It has been nearly three years since I submitted photos of my heavily modified NN3 MkII. Pictures above show that the completed panoramic head fits in the palm of my hand. I've upgraded to the latest Canon Powershot S120 which has lowered the minimum focal length from 28 to 24 mm. This combined with a 4:3 aspect ratio allows a spherical panorama to be captured with 16 shots plus nadir. Also the camera will bracket three exposures, plus and minus two stops. Fixing aperture, manual focus and short self timer yields superb results. PTGui handles the bracketing effortlessly.

The point of the exercise was to reduce the size and weight of a pano rig dramatically. The whole thing including tripod fit in a small bag that is easy on the shoulder... far more convenient than the Nikon DSLR setup I also have.

Probably we should introduce a new mini model. :-)

aviator
10-30-2013, 05:27 AM
Nick,

I agree and believe you would find a market for what I have improvised. The performance of the compact point-and-shoot cameras has improved such that panoramas made with them are comparable to a DSLR at a fraction of the size and weight. The setup described above produces 18,000 by 9,000 pixel panoramas that are nearly identical to those from my Nikon D3. The only difference is the Canon S120 is limited to plus or minus two stops in bracketing, so very high contrast scenes might wish for more. I have not found this to be a problem. It opens a new world of panoramas because people frequently have a compact camera with them rather than hauling around a heavy DSLR.

You would need only three new pieces - shortened horizontal and vertical arms, and a simplified camera plate. For the latter I used a piece of aluminum channel, anti-skid tape and a captive 1/4-20 screw.

hindenhaag
10-30-2013, 10:44 AM
Hi, would like to see the pics of your model.

Cheers,
Heinz

aviator
10-30-2013, 11:05 AM
Heinz,

I've made some minor changes but pictures taken three years ago are in the first message, top of the thread. By the way, ideal tripods for this setup are the Velbon Ultra Voxi L or Gitzo GT1550T, both very light weight but sturdy with this small load. Note the advantage of the Canon Powershot S120... each shot is bracketed around the exposure of that scene, eliminating the wide range of bracketing using manual mode with a DSLR.

aviator
10-30-2013, 11:11 AM
A quick example made using this simple arrangement.

nick fan
10-30-2013, 11:57 AM
Heinz,

I've made some minor changes but pictures taken three years ago are in the first message, top of the thread. By the way, ideal tripods for this setup are the Velbon Ultra Voxi L or Gitzo GT1550T, both very light weight but sturdy with this small load. Note the advantage of the Canon Powershot S120... each shot is bracketed around the exposure of that scene, eliminating the wide range of bracketing using manual mode with a DSLR.

Did you say you were using auto exposure with bracketing?

Nick

aviator
10-30-2013, 07:06 PM
Yes, auto exposure with subtle differences. First set the camera to Av (Aperture variable) mode and adjust aperture to f8. This fixes the aperture, ensures good sharpness and excellent depth of field. Next set bracketing to three shots, one properly exposed, one two stops under and one two stops over. Also set shooting such that all three shots are made when the shutter button is depressed. Bracketing will be accomplished now by automatically changing shutter speed only. Allow me to digress with the rationale on ISO setting. With shutter speeds as the only variable, the camera has a dynamic range of 12 stops - from 1 to 1/2500 second. We want to place the 'normal' exposure in the middle of this, at 1/50 second, to make maximum use of the dynamic range to fill in shadows and attenuate highlights. Set ISO as required to get about 1/50 second exposure on a representative scene, typically 100 to 200 on a sunny day, then set white balance for conditions. Next set manual focus for 10 feet, about the hyperfocal distance for a 24 mm equivalent lens, ensuring very good depth of field. Fixing focus also ensures the NPP will not move, and the scenes will all look the same to the stitcher. Finally set the self timer for a couple second delay to allow camera shake from the button push to damp out. So to recap, each of the individual shots will be optimized for that scene and will vary widely from sky to deep shadow. But each is captured optimally, plus the brackets high and low. On a typical outdoor panorama PTGui will show 20 to 25 different exposures ranging from 1/4 to 1/2000 second. The program will warn you not to expect the same good results as bracketing at identical exposures but the results are excellent. For low light situations you could use a wider aperture or run up the ISO...maximum for the Canon S120 is 6400. I haven't tried fully automated exposure where the camera varies both aperture and shutter speed but suspect this would work okay. It would provide a much wider dynamic range which I have not needed yet. Again the point of this is capturing very nice panoramas with a camera/pano head combination that will fit in your coat pocket.

John Houghton
10-31-2013, 12:51 AM
The program will warn you not to expect the same good results as bracketing at identical exposures but the results are excellent.
Judging by the sample image you provided in the earlier post, the program is right. The image has a very unnatural look as a result of subverting the standard HDR process, so I would not agree that the results are excellent. But this is a subjective matter and not everybody is aiming for a naturalistic rendering. The results please you and that's the important thing; there's no arguing with that.

John

aviator
10-31-2013, 03:32 AM
John, Thanks for your comment. I should have qualified saying...excellent results for a palm-size solution. Note that I am still tinkering with settings on the just-released Canon S120, and would now turn off the Vivid color setting used in the example. 'My other car' is a Nikon D3/14-24/NN4RD16 setup and it does a better job with HDR using true bracketing.

aviator
11-17-2013, 07:16 PM
Although not intended to compete with a heavy DSLR and full HDR, attached is today's panoramic example. The modified NN3, Canon S120 and Gitzo GT1550T combination weighs only 1615 grams complete and fits in a small nylon bag. The stitched photo comprises 24 images each bracketed plus/minus two stops. Dynamic range in this case was 9 stops and the closest object was 300 mm away. Of course results would improve with a lower contrast scene, such as indoors.

DennisS
11-22-2013, 05:28 PM
I can say that Nick does listen when a garage machinst creates something that the Pano community would be interested in.
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I show Nick my ideas all the time (at least when I have spare time to create something new and/or interesting).
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It took about a year of pestering to get him to finally make the Nadir adapter.
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This pano head helped inspire the latest pano heads for small cameras. I used it for monopod panos when I wanted to swivel the camera up in order to handle lens flare.
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http://www.dlsphoto.net//Samyang75PanoHead/MiniNN3B.jpg
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It is possible to go smaller and lighter, but I have started using a different rig.
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We emailed back and forth with ideas. He finalized his design and released the final product to the public.
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Keep making stuff and sharing it with Nick. Fanotec does in fact listen.

nick fan
11-24-2013, 08:59 AM
chances are you will see smaller models in 2014.
:-)

Nick

aviator
11-24-2013, 09:16 AM
"Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan."

aviator
12-06-2013, 06:43 AM
John, as you pointed out, my initial results at HDR with this little camera were poor. In aviation I had what is known as a 'finger problem'... I couldn't put my fingers in the proper place on the camera. The initial image was bracketed with three shots covering four stops. This is far too taxing for the software as there is not enough information in shadows and highlights for smooth merging. Subsequently I've found that it is pretty easy to get nine shots bracketed one stop apart using the camera's EV offset function. Set up three shots with one stop bracketing, then twist the EV adjust to -3, 0, and +3 for each panoramic view. Sample attached.